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Jeffrey D. Allred, KSL

'I knew she was gonna let one loose': Tessen's perfect 10 leads Utes past Cardinal

By Ty Bianucci, KSL.com | Posted - Mar. 6, 2020 at 10:41 p.m.



SALT LAKE CITY — Cammy Hall racked a career high on vault in the first rotation, earning a 9.950 before Kim Tessen brought the house down with a perfect 10.

It was all but procedural at that point as No. 4 Utah continued its undefeated season (11-0, 7-0) at the Huntsman Center Friday night. The Utes made quick work of Stanford, beating the Cardinal 197.750-196.725.

For Tessen, her vault was just the fourth perfect score received by a Ute this season and the only of her career. The Red Rocks claimed a lead after the first rotation and never looked back, running away with the competition over a lowly Stanford (3-12, 0-8) team that did not win a Pac-12 matchup all season.

"I knew she was gonna let one loose, it was just coming. She’s been blasting them in training," Utah head coach Tom Farden said. "I thought vault went really well, obviously with our season high and Kim putting the cherry on top."

Utah, the first-ever Pac-12 regular season champions, saved its best vault score of the season for March, scoring a 49.525 to top Stanford’s 49.100.

"When I landed, I knew it was going to be big and it felt really amazing," Tessen said "Every time I prepare to walk out of the tunnel, I still get full-body chills every single time. It’s such a surreal feeling to me and I thought I only have a couple more times to perform in front of this crowd."

In the third rotation, the Utes’ Maile O’Keefe took home a 9.975 on balance beam, which matched a career high from her performance against Oregon State last month. Stanford’s star Kyla Bryant, meanwhile, drew the loudest ovation for a member of the road team with her floor performance when she drew a 9.950. It was the highest floor mark of the evening.

Utah claimed a 49.550 on beam, while Stanford scored a 49.375 on the floor, which meant Utah heading into the final rotation with a commanding 148.400-147.650 advantage.

Despite the dominant victory, Farden still saw room for improvement as his team prepares for postseason performances. He said he would like to see the Utes improve their timing in order to set up the skills they are showcasing better.

"I thought some of the meet was a little clunky," Farden said. "It was also rushed and so they were getting a little ahead of themselves, a little too fast in their rhythms."

With a 49.075 score, Stanford was badly beat on beam, which meant the Utes could afford to lapse a bit on the floor. It was the only exercise in which Utah was edged out — only by a mere 0.025.

Part of the explanation stemmed from the absence of standout junior Sydney Soloski, who was pulled as a precautionary measure after experiencing tightness in her quad. With spring break coming up, Farden said he’s going to give the team two days off for a mental breather as well as to get them off their legs, which will benefit Soloski.

"They’ve been high for so long, emotionally. They’ve been just locked in if you think about what they just did. They beat the top half of the Pac-12 at their place," Farden said.

The Utes will have an additional tune up against in-state foe Utah State next Friday on senior night in the Huntsman Center before setting their sites on the Pac-12 Championships, which will be held down the road at the Maverik Center on March 21.

"We’ve been trying to stay as normal as possible this year," Alexia Burch said. "That’s kind of been our go-to motto is just ‘normal,’ so we’re trying not to switch things up too much and just stay consistent with what we do."

Ty Bianucci

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